1 B'ezrat Ha-Sheim Yitbarakh
24 Sivan 5762
Zionism in the Light of Faith
Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Glasner
Draft English translation from the Hebrew translation by Naftali Ben Menahem for the sake of our brethern in Israel who are in jeopardy and for the sake of the State of Israel, the first dawn of our redemption.
Zionism in the Light of Faith
I. Nationality and Religion
Since the appearance of Herzl's movement, which aroused Judaism from its slumber with its call to self-help, many have dealt with the question whether it is appropriate to view Judaism in its dispersion among the nations and its association with them as a nationality unto itself.
For the Gentile the question does not even exist. To the cobbler who utters the epithet Yid as a matter of course and to the enlightened Christian who imposes, in a polite fashion, social and economic ostracism upon the Jew, or treats him, at any rate, as one without equal rights, it is clear that the Jew, because of his special inherited traits, his manners and traditions, must be perceived and endured as a pin in the raw flesh of the nations.
It is appropriate to note that in discussing this question, the two opposite extremes in Judaism - the assimilationists on one side and those called "Hareidim" on the other - come together to oppose, each for its own reasons and motives, the awakened national feeling. The assimilationists do not believe in the future of Judaism and they are tied to it only by a cultural connection: this connection is satisfied with a visit to the temple during the High Holy Days and the memorial days, while in all areas of life they do not differ fundamentally from the Christians. They therefore can not understand what offense the Gentile society has found in them and why they are not treated as equal citizens.
With the assimilationists there is nothing to discuss, for they have become estranged and are very far removed from Judaism. In an outward way, as in their inward aspiration, they see themselves as part of the governing nationality. It is therefore regrettable that Christian society does not honor their ways and observes in them foreign characteristics whose existence the assimilationists deny completely. This situation often results in baptism. Especially now at the
moment of the reawakening of the national feeling of Israel and the strengthening of its aspiration for national independence, it is shocking to witness this outcome. In this circumstance, our assimilationists are confused and see apostasy as their only alternative. We do, indeed, regret that the birth of the national idea in Israel is hastening the pace of separation from the people. However, there is in this ultimately no loss for the revival of Judaism, for the assimilationist principle within us always posed a danger to the survival of the Jewish community. And when, over fifty years ago, we witnessed a similar process of separation between the Orthodox and the Neologs, it was really the aspiration for assimilation that was the hidden impetus for that separation.
Those who were somewhat Hareidi and those who were not Hareidi at all were confused by the onset of Emancipation, for they believed that they discerned in the Emancipation the complete redemption, the redemption of Israel, for which they had been hoping and praying. They thought that, with the formal removal of the walls of the ghetto, the spiritual walls between Jews and Gentiles had also been destroyed. The spirit of Israel would be able to work successfully in all areas of life: in the arts, in science and in literature. The end of the Diaspora had come. Within this view lay a serious danger to the survival of faithful Judaism or of the survival of Judaism of any kind. There was no way to confront this danger but that of separation.
But here a serious mistake was made. The separation was based on a religious distinction. They tried to prove that between the Orthodox and the Neologs there were dogmatic differences that did not allow them to coexist. But they hid the true reason for the separation that was contained in the assimilationist tendency of the reformist movement, Neologism, and that the survival of the Jewish nation required the most determined opposition to this movement.
Loyal Jews did not have the courage to announce and declare the simple truth that the Judaism that survived the two thousand year Diaspora, undergoing the most difficult trials through the strength of the unqualified faith in the true redemption that would bring to full realization the national life of the Jewish nation on the holy land of Israel, was not prepared to abandon its hope in exchange for an emancipation on paper that had not, in fact, been realized at all or in part. Orthodoxy was too timid not to agree that the emancipation - on the assumption that its intention was to disperse the nation among the host countries - was not useful or desirable inasmuch as we had not abandoned the hope for a full national life in the Holy Land. Orthodoxy, thus, clothed itself in the cloak of patriotism and began to compete with Neologism in a contest of chauvinism.
The final achievement of the national association of Orthodoxy in Budapest is typical of the conduct of the Orthodox leadership. With the collapse of the Great Powers in October 1918 it was announced that it was necessary to call a national assembly for the sake of demonstrating support for the demand for a unified Hungarian state. The Neolog leaders, Ferenc Szekely and Vilmos Vazsonyi, gathered the Jewish communities, without any partisan distinction, to a convention in Budapest, so that Hungarian Jews, Hungarians of the Mosaic faith, would express their opinion in favor of a unified state. The leadership of the Orthodox announced in an official message, that it viewed the proclamation as redundant, even dangerous. The proclamation could be interpreted to mean that there was some special necessity for the Jews of Hungary to declare that they were full Hungarians, whereas for members of other faiths the matter was self-evident. In a critical period, when the great powers of the world recognized the right of every nation, and, in particular, of the Jewish nation, to national independence, the official Orthodox leadership continued to maintain this shameful lie, as if the Jews were only a separate religious community (Hungarians of the Mosaic faith), but, as a people, were, like the Catholics or the Protestants, complete Hungarians.
And what happened a few months later when upper Hungary joined Czechoslovakia? Here the Orthodox organized itself in the spirit of the old Hungarian Orthodoxy. It proclaimed itself a separate religious community and it allowed its national status to be decided by the government. The same people that took a key position in Hungarian Orthodoxy and issued in its name the above proclamation, now announced to the President of Czechoslovakia that they were seeking only protection for the autonomy of the religious Jewish community, awaiting the future determination of their nationality, while being indifferent about whether they would be classified as Czechoslovaks or Hungarians. The President of the state, of course, denied their request decisively, as we read in the Israelit (July 1919, p. 27). What will the Czechoslovak government say and what will the Hungarian government say concerning this playing with the most sacred feelings of national sentiment?
In light of what has been said it would be unnecessary to prove that those who are called Hareidim deny their Jewish nationality for political reasons, as it were, and in so doing they cooperate with the assimilationists. The truth is that the Jewish people is a nation that, like every other nation, has national aspirations. It is therefore necessary to seek the origins of the falsehood that we are just a religious community. It will not be redundant then if I say a few words here on the subject "faith" or "nation" from a religious and philosophical point of view.
II. Faith or Nation
Whoever says that the Torah prescribes only a religious law or a faith makes a fundamental error. The Torah is a civil law, and, at bottom, it is the condition for the national existence and the national state. The purpose of the first commandment that our father Abraham was commanded, circumcision, was to apply a mark that would distinguish the descendants of Abraham from all other peoples. The Sabbath, which is "a sign between Me and between the children of Israel" (Exodus 31:13) is the national property of the Jewish people. That is why our Sages said: "A Gentile that observes the Sabbath is liable to the death penalty" (Sanhedrin 58a). The Gentile, who is not from the children of Israel, commits a capital offense by observing the Sabbath. Almost all the other commandments are tied to historical events, for example: hameitz and matzah, the pascal sacrifice, tephilin, redemption of the first born, gid ha-nasheh and the like. Many of them are tied to living on the land, for example Sukkot (Deuteronomy 16:13: "when you make your ingathering from your granary and winepress"), the four species from the vegetation of the land, Shavuot at the time of the wheat harvest, the Omer on Pesach to permit consumption of the newly harvested grain within the boundaries of the land, the twin loaves on Shavuot and all the commandments that are dependent on the land of Israel, orlah, k'lai ha-kerem, shemitah, yoveil, t'rumot and ma'aserot, the appointment of judges and officers (See Ramban, poroshat Shoftim) and other similar commandments. Similarly the various commandments concerning the bringing of sacrifices are all based on the assumption of the existence of a land of our own, the land of Israel.
The Ramban writes in poroshat Va-ethanan and in poroshat Toldot on the verse (Genesis 26:5) "and he kept my charge" that the commandments principally apply on the land, as is implied by the plain meaning of numerous verses.1
Also the Sifri, brought by Rashi in poroshat Eiqev, says on the verse "and you shall put my words on your heart" (Deuteronomy 11:18)
Even after you are exiled from land be distinguished by the commandments, wear tephilin, make mezuzot, so that the laws should not seem new to you when you return. And so does Jeremiah say (Jeremiah 31:20) "make signs for yourselves."
My holy ancestor the Hatam Sofer z.l., writes in his responsum at the end of Yoreh Dei'ah that he wondered how the Rambam established belief in the coming of the Messiah as a fundamental tenet of faith, so that if the foundation falls, so does the entire structure. For are we not enjoined to observe the commandments even if we should we never return to our land? (See Hatam Sofer, Yoreh Dei'ah, 356)2 Now, though I am dust beneath the feet of my holy ancestor, of blessed memory, I have written at length in a responsum that, with apologies to the honor of his learning, he was carried away and forgot the words of the Ramban mentioned above which he himself cites in his commentary on Gittin concerning one who sold his slave to a master outside the land of Israel in which case the slave goes free, because fulfilling the commandments outside the land of Israel is considered a nullity inasmuch as one who dwells outside the land of Israel resembles one who has no G-d, since, as the Ramban wrote, the principal application of the commandments is in the land of Israel (Hidushei Hatam Sofer, Gittin 8a). This is the upshot of his explanation. It is, therefore, certainly a great and awesome tenet of faith to believe that we will return to the land of our fathers, for only there in the capacity of a free nation (am hophshi) inhabitants of the land shall we be able to develop and to become a wise and understanding people and a kingdom of priests and holy nation. Nor, as I have explained in my responsum, is his question concerning the ten tribes difficult at all.
It is clear, then, that anyone who does not believe in the future of the Jewish people in its historical homeland twists the Torah from its plain meaning. That is why when a Gentile comes to convert to Judaism he must first pledge solidarity with the Jewish people, as in the words of Ruth the Moabite: "Your people shall be my people, and your G-d my G-d" (Ruth 1:16). My opinion, then, is that the proclamation that it is possible to belong to the Jewish faith while also belonging to the Hungarian, German, or Slavic nationalities is absolute heresy and that the prohibition against such heresy is of such severity that one is obligated to be killed rather than to transgress (yei'hareig v'al ya'avor). I therefore cannot understand how our rabbis, the leaders of the Hungarian Orthodox Jewish community could have officially announced that the Orthodox Jews uphold Judaism as a religious community, but that they have nothing to do with the Judaism as a nationality, that they see themselves as Hungarians of the first rank and perceive no distinction between themselves and the ethnic Hungarians except their religion. In the annals of the Jewish people this proclamation will remain as a disgraceful, indelible stain on Hungarian Orthodoxy.
It is wrong to see the Torah as a simple religious law for the following reason: all obligatory religions stand on the foundation that they alone entitle a person to reward and they therefore aspire to gather to themselves the hearts of all mankind, whereas the Torah of Israel, the law of a national state, excludes members of other nationalities from the group that must fulfill its religious laws while also admitting that not only the Jewish religion grants reward but that everyone who believes in the Master of the Universe and fulfills the Seven Noahide Laws can be rewarded.
It seems to me that I have said enough about the question whether we are a nation or a religious community. The discussion can be summarized in a short sentence: We are a people with national aspirations, to a land of our own and a language of our own, and if we ceased to be so, or if we relinquished our nationality, we should cease to be a religious community.
The highest criterion of an authentic religion is a supreme religious authority, which in Judaism is found only in the land of Israel and by virtue of the semiha (ordination). Whatever has been established in this area in the Diaspora is only a temporary expedient.
III. The Influence of Zionism on the Faith
With everything that we have said until here, we have still not dispelled the suspicions of the Hareidim about the resurrection of national awareness and about revival of national life in the land of Israel. The fear is great and not unfounded and therefore is worthy of serious discussion from the halakhic standpoint. I approach this inquiry with a prayer for Heavenly assistance that He will help me prove the righteousness of the matters to those Hareidim whose hearts are open to understanding and to thoughtful discussion.
No one is unaware of the greatness of the commandment of settling the land of Israel, for whose upkeep the greatest of the heros dedicated their best thoughts and deeds and for the sake of which they permitted the writing of a bill of sale on the Sabbath. Nor has it been hidden from anyone's eyes that this Sabbath, this the most important of the commandment of our holy Torah, can only be observed in the Diaspora by pushing aside the private economic concerns of the individual, and it is therefore violated by many for the sake of survival and sustenance. It is not so in the land of Israel within which the Sabbath day is securely designated as an official day of rest.
Nevertheless, the Hareidim see in the renewal of the national life in Israel a danger to the traditional religion. First, because the direction and active leadership are in the hands of people who are not reliable from a religious standpoint, in the hands of those who do not recognize the fundamental religious tenets and who are not prepared to be guided in their actions by religious considerations. Second, because it is impossible to imagine a renewed political order, supported by its economic and cultural institutions, that would be founded upon religion and tradition while also satisfying the requirements of the renewed settlement of the land of Israel.
However, there is another fear that worries the Hareidim and arouses their doubts about the rebirth of Israel in the land of Israel. It is well known that in the course of two thousand years of exile it was only the involvement in and the study of the Torah that preserved Israel. All that time, while the ghetto was separating the Jews from the world of business and culture, the fields of art and science, craftsmanship and agriculture, it was natural that the Jews would devote themselves with all their intellectual talent, to the study of Torah. Concentration on the Torah was the sole ideal of the people. The honor, glory and favor of the town were directed toward the Torah scholar, and to a lesser degree, toward an ignorant person who supported a Torah scholar with his own wealth. Indeed, even after the walls of the ghetto were brought down and all fields of activity were opened to the eyes of the Jews, the people thought it proper to confine their youth within in the four walls of the "heder" and the house of study, because every other activity, which is profane and not specifically Jewish, would distance one from Judaism. Whoever turned his back on the house of study - whatever his talent in any other field might be - was absolutely or partly lost to the Jewish people and was not entitled to the glory of a Jewish person. Only one who studied the Torah was thought to be a specifically Jewish person, and even this study had to be on condition that it was undertaken only for the sake of Heaven, without any special objective and not in a scientific or philosophical manner. For the sake of an elevated safeguard on the religious spirit of study, Scriptural and linguistic study were pushed aside into the corner. Matters reached the point that many rabbis had only a weak idea concerning the history of their nation and could not write a single line on paper without committing gross errors. Instead of following the dictate ("at five years begin the study of the Scriptures, at ten the study of the Mishnah, and at fifteen the study of the Talmud") of the Tanna in Pirkei Avot (5:21), which implies that the first five years of study should be reserved for the study of the Holy Scriptures, to gaining mastery over the language and to breathing in the spirit of the prophets, and according to which a child should only be inducted at the age of ten into the hall of study of the Mishnaic literature, and at the age of fifteen to the higher study of the Talmud a doctrine was created that makes a mockery of all the rules of pedagogy and twists the minds of the best spiritual power. Here in the Diaspora they saw the need to skip the rungs of the ladder and to force the child at age of six into the house of the Talmud. Against this doctrine, or more correctly, against this absence of doctrine, warnings were issued by the holy Shelah, R. Ya'akov Emden, and by other great scholars. Nevertheless, the doctrine became deeply rooted and it rules today in the Hareidi world.
The revival of the national life in the land of Israel is now being discussed. In that land, work in all fields of human activity will merit its proper valuation, and the study of Torah will there cease to be the only field in which it is possible to work for the sake of Judaism. The physician, the engineer, the chemist, the farmer and the artist - all these will perform Jewish work that will bring upon itself honor and glory. Will none of those young people who have sat until now on the benches of the heder and the house of study, without doctrine or purpose, not be drawn into these fields? And will none of them turn to new fields by which to serve their people with their full physical and intellectual capabilities? What will happen to the Torah? What then will happen to those houses of study, hallowed to this day? And will any of those few that will continue to be eager to study Torah continue to study in the customary manner? Will any of the nation that has renewed itself in the land of Israel, the generation that will speak classical Hebrew, recognize as spiritual leaders those Torah scholars, those Yiddish-speaking yeshiva instructors who do not speak the language of their people? Will any of the new Jews listen to their incomprehensible speeches and lectures? And if the Jewish circles will be forced to change the manner of instruction in the schools and yeshivot, will the change not damage the religious spirit that has thus far governed these institutions? And will this spirit not be transformed into a spirit of research, science and haskalah? These thoughts are what frighten the Hareidim and are precisely what has changed them into absolute opponents of the aspirations of a tortured people to gain for itself the natural right to live, as it wills, in its homeland.
In response to these fears, it is my wish to explain my position. There are two responses. First, do we Hareidim, who have, to our misfortune, become a minority in the Jewish people, and especially weak in intellectual and material powers, really think that through our passive opposition, or through our Agudah groups, which underscore with abundant clarity our incapacity for the necessary work, we shall be able to disturb or to frustrate the work of the powerful World Zionist Congress, that goes from strength to strength? That organization which appeared twenty three years ago (1897) and took hold like a flame on the face of the land in every place where the heart of a Jew beats; it fashioned a world platform for the Jewish people that drew the attention of the heads of governments to the Jewish question and, even before the war began the effort on behalf of the Land of Israel whose fruits it is harvesting today. That organization which was capable of appearing before the League of Nations as the lawful representative of world Jewry and succeeded in turning the state of war to the advantage of the holy and just cause of its people so that the peace conference unanimously recognized the land of Israel as the Jewish national home under the protection of Great Britain. Do those Hareidim really believe that they will be able, through the veto power and through the organizational power of the Agudah, which seems to lack any program, to hold back the movement to build the land of Israel, which the Zionist organization supports, without the support and even against the will of the Hareidim, with superior and ample means? And if they believe this, do they also believe that in opposition to the flowering of the new Judaism in the land of Israel they will be able to survive here in the Diaspora within the framework of their policy of opposition?
Or perhaps they believe that their doctrine of self-separation and dissociation from the new enthusiastic Judaism that is in the land of Israel they will be able to merit those achievements that they achieved in Hungary and Germany against the Neologs? If so, they do not understand the situation at all, because while in the struggle with the Neologs, who had assimilationist tendencies and whose objective was foreign to Judaism, they had an easy contest. But here they will have an encounter with organized Judaism full of enthusiasm that sees Judaism in its image and aspires to gather under the wings of Judaism those who have fallen or who have fallen partially. Against the influence of these the Hareidim will not be able to guard their children even here in the Diaspora.
And as to the manner in which Talmud will be studied in the land of Israel, a reduction in the number of those who study Talmud need arouse no fears, for the present situation is not healthy and is in the category of a deplorable necessity. The healthy and the natural doctrine is the following which was mentioned by the Mishnah in Avot, that we cited above and is implied by the Midrash in Midrash Rabbah at the beginning of Leviticus (chapter 2):
"Is Ephraim a beloved son unto me?" (Jeremiah 31:19): Israel stand as precious to me. In the normal course of the world a thousand people begin the study of the Scriputre, and one hundred complete this course study. These hundred begin the study of the Mishnah, and ten complete this course of study. These ten begin the study of Talmud and one completes this course of study. This is the one about whom it is written (Ecclesiastes 7:28): "One man out of a thousand have I found."
What a golden fruit would this doctrine yield in the land of Israel. The entire people, more or less, would be involved in the study of the Holy Scriptures, and a not inconsiderable portion would also be engaged in the study of the oral torah that is organized in the Mishnah, while the students who distinguish themselves in the study of Mishnah would be selected to devote themselves to the study of Talmud. From these would emerge true Torah scholars and giants of Torah, similar to those whom we knew in the bright era of Israel. Even without this, the situation in the land of Israel would be more healthy and more natural if only a small portion of the people will turn to Torah studies at the highest level, that is Talmudic study. It would be healthy and natural if higher Talmudic studies would be reserved to a small portion of the people, in the manner in which the tribe of Levi, which constituted eight percent of the people and did not participate in the ownership of the land and whose assignment and profession was to be the spiritual leaders of the nation, was sanctified and separated from the people to devote themselves to the study of Torah at the highest level. In contrast the other tribes, which constituted 92 percent of the people took part in various mundane occupations and were only free on the Sabbath and Holy Days to provide their souls with spiritual and moral nourishment.
And so is it told in the Midrash [Hebrew translator's note: To my sorrow I am unable to find its source. See Bialik-Ravnitzki, Sepher Agadah, Tel Aviv 5715, p. 381; Sepher Shabbat, p. 28.]
When Israel was in the desert, before they entered the land of Israel, the Torah said to the Holy One Blessed Be He: "A man under his vine and a man under his fig tree." What will become of me?" For in the desert the entire people devoted themselves to the study of Torah, because they had no other worries. The Holy One Blessed Be He replied to the Torah: "I have another partner that I will give you, which is the Sabbath day, for Israel are idle from work and enter to the houses of worship and the houses of study and devote themselves to the study of Torah.
The working man fills the Sabbath day with Torah study.
Work in the land of Israel ennobles and refines, because it raises the level of happiness of the people and advances the prosperity of the homeland. It is therefore altruistic and it is as obligatory as prayer and the study of Torah in the Disapora. This idea is powerfully expressed in Midrash Rabbah (poroshat Ki Tavo)
When Moshe saw that the Holy Temple was destined to be destroyed and the first fruits were destined to be interrupted, he arose and decreed that Israel should pray three times daily.
Besides its religious meaning, the commandment of the first fruits, also had an additional purpose: to encourage the people working tills their land to a more intensive and more exquisite cultivation of their crops. This was like a religious vow. And the Mishnah in tractate of Bikurim tells us with what ceremony of crowds and musical accompaniment the first fruits were brought up to Jerusalem. All the artisans, before whom those carrying the first fruits passed, stood up and ceased working as a sign of respect to the carriers of the first fruits, even though they were not obligated to stand even for a Torah scholar. To such an extent was agricultural work venerated! The simple farmer, whose diligent care for his land served not only himself and his family, but the whole nation, was accordingly so greatly uplifted and refined in his Jewish consciousness and his character that he was not required to come to the house of study except on the Sabbath and on Holy Days. But when Moses our teacher foresaw with the eyes of his spirit the image of the Jew of the Diaspora who would have only the egoistic goal of his own personal well-being in view and whose heart and mind, detached from his land and unsure of his sustenance, would have no thought but to profit at the expense of others, Moses was obliged to provide him with a moral safeguard by sending him three times a day to the house of worship so that he would not be overwhelmed by mundane, selfish work.
Our Sages of later generations also warned against study of the Torah exclusively and exalted the idea of work, as we have studied in Pirqei Avot (2:2):
The study of Torah is appropriate together with pursuit of a livelihood, for the combination of the two together causes sin to be forgotten, and any Torah which is not accompanied by work is destined to be nullified and will cause sin.
And we also learn (Qidushin 29a):
Whoever does not teach his son a trade is like one who teaches him robbery
Our Sages also taught us (Berakhot 8a):
One who derives benefit from his own effort is greater than one who fears heaven.
The various commentators endeavor to interpret an explicit and clear saying in a different way from its plain meaning. Their efforts were unnecessary, for the fear of heaven associated with an easy life is very far from being powerful enough to resist sin and evil inclination and sin, and does not protect against evil character traits, while the expenditure of energy distracts a person from his weakness and his evil inclination and brings upon the worker a noble spirit, so that jealously and hatred, suspicion and oppression are almost unknown to him.
This lesson we may learn from the sin and fall of Adam. At the commandment of the Almighty, blessed be He, Adam was prohibited at pain of death from deriving any benefit from the Tree of Knowledge. He was, of course, one who feared Heaven, but he was idle in the Garden of Eden. So he was unable to withstand the test, eating the fruit of the tree from which was commanded not to eat. And he said (Genesis 3:12): "The woman that you gave to me. She gave me from the fruit of the tree. And I ate."3
The Midrash adds:
The woman that you gave me brought me to this that I ate from the tree and I am not at all sure that I will not eat any more.
When the Holy One Blessed Be He saw that fear of heaven, which, without doubt, was one of Adam's traits, did not save him from sin, He gave Adam another means by which to avoid sin: hard work. For G-d said to him (Genesis 3:19): "with the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread." The saying that one who derives benefit from his own effort is greater than one who fears Heaven is therefore exceedingly correct, for one who works is better protected from sin than one who fears heaven but is idle, for the latter is more easily caught by the tests of sin, and especially in the matter of dealing honestly in business. See the Midrash on Proverbs
"Better is the bread of desolation in which there is peace" (Proverbs 17:1). This is the land of Israel, for even if a man eats bread and salt every day but lives within the land of Israel, he is certain to enter the world to come. "Than a house full of the sacrifices of strife." This is the land outside Israel, which is full of iniquity and robbery.
These words say more than a complete book. They illustrate the difference between the Jew of the Diaspora and the Jew of the land of Israel. Only a method of instruction such as this will succeed in forming the exceptional people that will be worthy of the description: "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." See the Palestinian Talmud (Sanhedrin 6:5):
It is written (Jeremiah 29:1): "more than the elders of the Diaspora." A small group that is in the land of Israel is more dear to me than the great Sanhedrin outside the land of Israel.
Now, concerning the public administration and how to administer it according to the Torah, it would be an idle task as yet to enter into this topic too deeply. It is clear that the holy Torah cannot put insurmountable obstacles in our way, so that we should be unable to live our national life in our land and that we should be required to remain in the Diaspora. There can be no doubt that had Israel remained in its homeland for the past two thousand years, it would not have been capable of being closed off from advancements in all areas of life. As a wise and understanding nation, the people of Israel would have been required to light the path before the nations in these fields, too. We can be sure that if we return now, after two thousand years of exile, to live our national lives in our homeland, that the Holy One Blessed Be He will give, and from the midst of the people there will arise, leaders worthy of their great assignment who will know how to reconcile life with the laws of the Torah in the manner in which the Rambam posited in his commentary on the Mishnah at the beginning of Sanhedrin.
And it appears to me that when there will be an agreement among all the scholars to advance one man from the academy upon them, and they will place him at their head, provided, as we have mentioned, that this takes place in the land of Israel, then the academy will be established for this man and he will be ordained. He will then be able to ordain whomever he wants to. For if you will say otherwise, it is impossible that the Sanhedrin will never be extant, because it is necessary that each member of the Sanhedrin be ordained and the Holy One Blessed Be He promised that they would return as it is written (Isaiah 1:26): "And I shall return your judges as at first and your counselors as in the beginning. And then it will be called unto you a city of justice." And without doubt this will occur when the Blessed Creator will prepare the hearts of the people and their merits will be multiplied and their longing will be for the name of the Blessed One and the Torah and their wisdom will become great before the coming of the Messiah, as this is explained in many verses in the Scripture.
If we faithfully attach ourselves to these holy and prophetic words of the Rambam, why should we not march in formation toward the task of settling and taking possession of the Holy Land, trusting in the Divine promise "I shall return your judges as at first and your counselors as in the beginning," which, according to the Rambam, is destined to occur before the arrival of the Messiah?
What has been said until now is about the trend of thinking of the union of Hareidim who have joined the World Zionist Congress under the name of Mizrahi and who already have the power to vote for not inconsiderable achievements. So they have secured agreement that cultural institutions infused with the spirit of the Torah will be supported at the expense of the general organization. And how much more would have been possible had all the Hareidim in their multitudes united under the banner of the Mizrah?.
However, it is my wish further to dispel the worries of the Hareidim from another viewpoint on the second issue.
IV. Zionism in the Light of Faith
Doubts similar to those that exist today in relation to Zionism existed at all stages of the extension of rights to all Jews in the Diaspora. After the French Revolution, when the nations reached the conclusion that it is not possible to deny an entire people their natural rights of citizenship on account of their faith and they granted the Jews the rights of equals, there were those of our Hareidi teachers of that generation who expressed the most serious religious reservations and attempted, by all means, to prevent this process. The same thing also happened again when the question of the Hertzaphtzion recognition4 in Hungary was solved, a matter to which I was an eyewitness.
It is worth remarking, by the way, on the historical fact that the motivation for the solution of the question of recognition in Hungary came from Klausenburg.5 When the Tisza party, the party of liberalism, appeared on the scene, it seemed an appropriate time to remove the shame of "lack of recognition" from our ancient and honorable faith. I, together with two of the most distinguished Jewish citizens of the city, explained to candidates of the Tisza party, who sought to assure for themselves the support of Jewish voters, that the government could not rely on the Jewish voters unless the prime minister would announce publically and in an appropriate way, that the government intended to propose in the near future legislation concerning the recognition of the Jewish religion. Shortly thereafter such an announcement was indeed made by the prime minister, and a short time later the recognition law was enacted by the parliament. This effort of mine was not well received in our circles and my favor departed from the eyes of our Orthodox leaders.
However, then as now, my position was this: even if we should admit that emancipation and reciprocity contain within them certain dangers for complete faith, this presumption cannot serve as a reason to ascribe to the people an intention to forego, or even to reject, natural rights. "Her ways are the ways of pleasantness," not the ways of unnatural rejection. The Holy One Blessed Be He does not demand of people to cease being people, nor does He demand of them that they quell their ambitions for success in anticipation of dangers that are liable to endanger the completeness of their faith
Now happiness and wealth may become a great danger to piety, as is explained in many places in the Scripture and as every day life experience teaches us. It would therefore have been necessary, on account of the dangers within it, to impose a religious prohibition against the ambition for happiness. But we see that it is not so, and not only do the pious among us pray for wealth and honor, but they pursue with full energy the enlargement of their wealth and possessions and they do not worry about bad results. There is no explanation except this: that a Divine law cannot prohibit or stop this tendency without at the same time impairing the natural development of the human species. More than this do we find: Hezekiah the king ceased conjugal relations after he was informed that he would beget a son named Menashe who would erect an idol in the Holy Temple (2 Kings 41:7; 2 Chronicles 33:7). He was then told by Isaiah the prophet: "What have you to do with these secrets of the Merciful One?" (Berahot 10a). "Such worries are not for you, and you ought not follow precautionary measures like these." Similarly, Miriam the daughter of Amram reproved her father for leaving his wife in order not to beget a son to be drowned in the Nile. (Sotah 12a)
If it is so for individuals, why would the Holy One Blessed Be He demand of a whole people a self-denial that would be like deliberate self-destruction? Even if our holy Torah demands from us not to depart from her ways, in the face either of persecution or enticement by the Gentiles, even if she demands that we sacrifice for her survival all, even our own selves, that is precious to us, the Torah would not demand what is unnatural: to reject, owing to fear of ourselves, rights and advantages that are otherwise attainable. The first demand is humane and natural while the second is inhumane and unnatural.
In that manner, there is today an absurd opinion that we the Hareidim must not exercise our right that has been recognized by the Great Powers of the world, which have taken an extra step forward by expressing their readiness to support the return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland, wherein the people will be able to live in accord with their spirit and their tradition, because we are afraid that there in the land of Israel, we will not, under our own autonomous jurisdiction, be sufficiently devout.
There is a further aspect to this question. A fundamental tenet of our faith is that even if people, in general, are free in their actions and are not under the influence of a celestial power, this is not so concerning great and significant events that determine the destiny of entire nations. In these cases, the active agents are only puppets manipulated from above, because the events that determine the destiny of the world cannot depend on the will of an individual or of the many as it is written (Proverbs 21:1): "The heart of kings and princes is in the hand of the L-rd, whatever He wants they shall give." Who among us would dispute that the appearance twenty-six years ago of the Zionist movement, which brought about the Balfour Declaration and the recognition of the land of Israel as the homeland of the people of Israel, was not decreed by Divine Providence?
To be sure, the eras of prophecy and open miracles have passed, but even today we still merit a modern prophecy (the holy spirit of wisdom) and modern miracles (miracles clothed in nature). When the Judenstaat of Herzl appeared twenty-six years ago, I felt in reading the work that a spirit from on high was guiding the pen of this man. Every word penetrated deep into my heart, and the general impression of this composition was enormous. That I was not alone in this feeling, but that it was a general feeling, is testified to by the fact that within a year the first Zionist conference was convened in Basel and with extraordinary enthusiasm created the famous Basel program and that the movement has succeeded in growing from year to year.
And if my point of view was not then, to my distress, shared by my colleagues in Hungary, who, at that time, issued prohibitions against Zionism and Mizrahi, does anything require them to maintain their rejection today? If the Zionist idea was then considered utopian, does anything require to continue their rejection today, after the world war and the subsequent peace conference have transformed it into a reality? Does anything require our Hareidim, who see in every inconsequential event miracles and wonders, to view precisely this phenomenon, which has astonished the world, as a mere coincidence? I am unable, and certainly do not want, to believe such a thing. I would rather hope that even in the twelfth hour a decisive turning point will occur in the view of these leaders of ours. And would that this essay will makes its contribution to this.
V. The Grosswardein Convention and the Open Letter of its Chief Rabbi
Since completing this small essay while on vacation, an invitation has reached me from the Orthodox community of Grosswardein to a national convention of Orthodox communities, whose purpose is to establish an Orthodox organization, on the model of the old Hungarian Irgun. To the invitation is attached an open letter of the chief rabbi of Grosswardein (Rabbi Binyamin Fox) in which those loyal to the Torah are called to join the Agudat Yisrael, which has become the union of Orthodox Judaism, independent of the Zionist organization. For only by absolute separation, they maintain, can loyal Judaism ensure its survival.
I cannot conclude this essay without commenting on this open letter. My most honored colleague! He invokes the term "people of the Torah" and believes that he thereby justifies the policy of separation. Let us now attend to the fact that the Jewish people are indeed the people of the Torah, because the spirit of the Torah beats in the least of them, which is why our Sages say (Sanhedrin 44a): "Even though one has sinned, he is still a Jew." Even in a sinful Jew it possible to find a treasure of the tradition of the Torah, as our Sages say (Sanhedrin 36a; Genesis Rabbah 32):
"Your cheeks are like the halves of a pomegranate" (Song of Songs 4:3) even those who are empty among you are as full of good deeds as a pomegranate.
And so they say: "The wicked are full of remorse." And
"Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone" (Hosea 4:17). Even if they worship idols, as long as they remain joined together and are united, leave them alone.
Even if the entire people, G-d forbid, forgets itself to such an extent that it worships idols, as long as it maintains its unity, it is certain that it will come back to itself.6
The Jewish people are the people of the Torah because they have been nourished by the lessons of the Torah, transmitted to them by their holy ancestors along with their mothers' milk. That is why Moses our teacher rejected the suggestion (Exodus 32:10): "now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; but of you I will make a great nation." Hosea the prophet was punished because he suggested exchanging them for another nation and the Blessed Eternal One replied to him: "Israel who are my children, my beloved children, the children of Avraham, Yitzhaq and Ya'aqov. I cannot exchange them for another nation" (Pesahim 66a). Isaiah the prophet was also punished and died a harsh death because he detracted from the dignity of the Jewish nation by calling it (Isaiah 6:5) "a people of unclean lips" (Yevamot 49b).
And my master, my colleague, the chief rabbi, and those who share his opinion want, in the name of the Torah, to come before the people of the Torah, at the moment when it is seeking to restore its glory and to divide it into sects and to interfere with its renaissance? You want to divide the people into two nations in opposition to the verse (1 Chronicles 17:21): "Who is like Thy people Israel, one nation in the world?" And in opposition to the holy Zohar: "The Holy One Blessed Be He, the Torah and Israel are one."
Or perhaps they mean to say, in the slogan of Hirsch "the people of the Torah," that your Orthodox organization, the Agudat Yisrael, though it encompasses within it only a minority, has itself become the Jewish people, because the others do not belong to the nation? I do not want to ascribe such a foolish idea to your honor, because the doctrine of separation, as it has been understood and explained in a country in which there is both Orthodoxy and Neologism, cannot be compared to a doctrine of separation within the entire Jewish people. For that you and those who share your opinion, including the leading scholars of Czechoslovakia, are too weak.
The nation cannot be separated and divided, for even those who are not believers and are not pious are the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They will not be excluded from it. It is possible and necessary to sacrifice everything for the sake of the survival of the Torah, but not Israel itself. See Midrash Qohelet 1
R. Shimon ben Yohai said: "It is written (Isaiah 65:22): 'for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be" and a tree refers only to the Torah. And who was created for whom? The Torah for Israel or Israel for the Torah? No, the Torah for Israel.
See also Tanna d'vei Eliyahu 14:
And he said to me: "My master, there are two things in this world that I love unconditionally, Torah and Israel. But I don't know which one takes precedence."
I said to him: "My son, people are wont to say that the Torah takes precedence, as it says (Proverbs 8:22) 'The L-rd created me at the beginning of His work.' But I say that Israel takes precedence, as it says (Jeremiah 2:3) 'Israel is holy to the L-rd, the first fruits of his harvest.' It may be compared to a king who had a wife and children in his home and he wrote a letter to the place where his wife and children were residing. Thus, if it were not for Israel, the world would not have been created and the world would have been destroyed. It therefore says, 'Israel is holy to the L-rd, the first fruits of his harvest.'"
So therefore the Torah was given for Israel and not Israel for the Torah.
I should have liked to recommend to him and to his colleagues to read a small composition of rich content. I have in mind Tomer D'vorah written by R. Moshe Cordovero, z.l., one of the great masters of the qabbalah. This book happens now to be in my possession and it would have been desirable that you all would have learned from it how to think about Israel and those of its children who are not devout. Here is an excerpt:
So should a man be. Even should he encounter the wicked, let him not be cruel but he should have mercy upon them and say they are after all the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If they are unworthy, their ancestors were worthy, and one who disgraces them disgraces the ancestors. I don't wish that their ancestors should be disgraced because of me. And he covers up their shame and corrects it to the best of his ability. (Chap. 1)
So should a person be benevolent to everyone and no man should be disgraced in his presence, but even the most insignificant of creatures should be very important in his eyes and he should focus on it and should provide for everyone who requires his benevolence. And this will follow from his always being peaceful toward all people, for if his conduct is harsh toward people, they will not be reconciled to him. And this is the meaning of the Mishnah (Avot 2:23): "Whoever is pleasing to mankind is pleasing to the Omnipresent One." That his ears should always be directed toward hearing good, but if he hears falsehood or unpleasantness, he should not go into it at all. And he should never be angry, but he should only exhibit vitality and goowill to fulfill every request and to support the downtrodden, to always forgive sins and never to be angry with those who do wrong to him. He should always be conciliatory and seek kindness to provide satisfaction to all. He should train himself to bring the love of mankind into his heart, even the wicked, as if they were his brothers until he fixes in his heart the love of all mankind and he should love even the wicked in his heart. (Chap. 2)
If our leaders took these holy words of gold to heart, they would know how to save true Judaism in a different fashion from that of isolation, for then, by actions intended to advance the physical well-being of the nation, they would be able to conquer the hearts of the unbelievers. And through the power of that love they could turn the ears of the children of their nation to their words, just as we know that Aaron the Priest, a lover and pursuer of peace, and a lover of mankind, brought them closer to Torah.
However, if the rabbis are concerned only with the soul, and have no interest in the physical well-being or the pain of the people, then it may be inferred that, because the prosperity of the people would cause them to lose their status, they see the salvation of the people and the deliverance of the Torah that has been entrusted to their hands as consisting entirely and solely in separation and division. See the Talmud in Berakhot (28a) where R. Joshua said to R. Gamliel: "Woe unto the generation for which you are the benefactor, for you do not know of the distress of the Torah scholars." And see the Rambam who says that a Torah scholar must always be distressed and worried about the troubles of Israel and must join in their distress. Similarly, instead of taking responsibility upon themselves for the religious condition of the people, as it is written (Deuteronomy 1:13), "and I will appoint them as your heads," from which our Sages deduced that the guilt of a generation hangs over the heads of the leaders (Deuteronomy Rabbah 1), and as the Holy One Blessed Be He said to Moses (Exodus 32:7): "go down for your people have corrupted themselves" which meant "go down from your greatness, I did not give you any greatness except for Israel" - instead of this, they compound the transgression and encourage intolerance and stir up the rage of division.
I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet. But my feeling is that your deeds which are intended to betray your people will fail with the help of the Blessed Eternal. For after two thousand years of exile, they are proclaiming with enthusiasm their connection to the holy Jewish nation. And those who are toiling to realize the sublime idea of the return of the land of Israel to the people of Israel - they will return on their own to the source of the Torah. And when it shall be in the land of Israel, the spirit of the Torah will succeed in being widened and deepened, as the prophet Ezekiel was promised (Ezekiel 36:24-31)
24. For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.
25. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
26. A new heart I will give you., and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
27. And I will put my spirit within you; and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.
28. You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people and I will be your G-d.
29. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses; and I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you.
30. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations
31. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominable deeds.
The prophet Ezekiel was doubtful about the return to the land of Israel of a people full of iniquity and abomination, yet he promised a religious and moral repentance on the Holy Land. And yet, my master, a descendant of that great prophet, holds back the people and disturbs its unity in the era in which it takes it upon itself to settle the Holy Land. And it shall not succeed. (V'hi lo titzlah)
My master relies upon Czechoslovakia as if it were possible to find there the great ones of Israel. Let him please take note that the true great ones of Israel are not found in his camp. Many are intimidated by the terrorism and have not the courage to stand up for the truth. However, the future, despite his protests, is with Zionism. And see the holy Zohar, poroshat sh'lah:
"All of them men" (Number 13:3). They were all righteous and they were all the leaders of Israel. But they spoke among themselves selfishly? If Israel will go up to the land, we will be passed over as leaders and Moses will choose new leaders, for we succeeded in being leaders only in the desert, but in the land of Israel we will not succeed to be leaders."
And so you, too, feel instinctively that you will be able to be leaders in the exile, but, in the land of Israel, your position will not be recognized.
In your open letter, you write:
The Mizrahi wishes to enact the laws of the Torah by its own strategy, of gaining a majority, something that it has no chance of achieving. But even if it gains a majority, it is making the obligatory validity of the Torah conditional on the result of elections, on the decision of the majority
To reinforce this position, your rabbinical court announced subsequently that such a practice would violate the Torah. However, I allow myself to present a modest question to the rabbinical court: On what basis do you nullify the will of the people, when the holy Torah turns over to the authority of the people the choice of a king and even imposes upon it this function, as it is written in poroshat Shophtim (Deuteronomy 17:15): "you may indeed set a king over you." The only qualification that is required of the king is that he be a Jew by nationality. "You may not put a foreigner over you." (See the Ramban on that verse.) He represents the will of people. The priest and the prophet had no executive authority. Their task was to guide the king and the people by moral means in the path of the Torah. If these means were not effective, the Holy One Blessed Be He reserved to Himself alone the function of carrying it out, as the tokhahah takes into account the possibility of moral reproof and exile.
And as our Sages said (Megilah 14a):
Greater [more effective] was the removal of the ring (by Ahasuerus to Haman) than forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses who gave prophecy to Israel
Haman the wicked was noteworthy for Israel in being a more significant source of reproof than the forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses who arose for Israel. However, I have not found in the entire Written and Oral Torah that the Holy One Blessed Be He commanded that nation be subject to reproof by an Orthodox, Agudist association.
The proper path is the path of the Torah. The Mizrahi, which aims to influence the leaders and the people, through moral persuasion, to accept upon themselves the laws of the holy Torah, therefore seeks to gain a majority.
Nor does the Agudah appear to be serious, because more than eight years passed since the Katowitz meeting,7 with no sign of life from the Agudah. In the new program they attempt to attribute this fact to the war that broke out twenty-seven months later. In the opinion of our Sages (Berahot 58b), a period of twelve months is sufficient for the most precious matters to be forgotten. A period of a year is enough for deceased parents to be forgotten. A year after the passing of her husband, a widow may marry another man. But what happened to the enthusiasm of the Katovits meeting? How did they fill the vacuum of this period of time? Why could they not call within a year a planned international conference? And how were their efforts expressed to minimize the suffering and hardship, the terror of which cannot be described, that came during the World War, and especially upon the Jewish people? How small is the Agudah and how negligible are its achievements in comparison to those of the Zionist leadership, both in the political and in the human fields.
Please remember, my lord, that in every place in which pogroms and pillage were carried out, they were stopped or restrained only through the great influence of the Zionist administration, the national representative of the Jewish people in the great League of Nations. It has now been told to me that in Nasaud and other small towns in Transylvania that the Romanian government stopped the looting populace by taking into consideration that the Jews had gained great influence in the Peace Conference and that looting the property of the Jews would damage Romanian interests at this conference. Even Graf Apponyi of Hungary testified on the great influence of the Jews and he therefore weakened and minimized the atrocities against the Jews.
What can the Agudah show in comparison to this? Nothing of the Agudah's opposition program for the land of Israel has been disclosed. Does it wish to set up, as a shadow government, Orthodox trains, telegraphs, and post offices? Or does it propose to organize a special police force for the Orthodox and similar services, and to gain for this purpose the permission of the English government? And what does it wish to do in the Diaspora? Does it wish to seek special minority rights for the Orthodox? Or perhaps it wants, on the example of the Orthodox in Czechoslovakia and Transylvania, to forego any claims on the relevant governments for minority national rights, and only to gain special recognition? As long as the Agudah does not clarify these questions, it cannot hope to be joined by serious and clear-thinking people.
Finally, I wish to conclude with a word of encouragement for the Hareidim of the Mizrahi in the belief that we are now living in the time of the Salvation and that our work is holy work. For this purpose I will cite the following passage from Tanah d'vai Eliyahu:8
The salvation from Egypt was not strong and durable enough to last for eternity because it was a salvation achieved by ravaging nature through miracles and signs and wonders. But a miracle has no permanence. By contrast, in the salvation to come, the miracles will be hidden within nature. It will therefore last forever and it will be an eternal salvation.
See also the Radaq on the verse in Psalms (146:3): "put your trust not in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help." The Radaq says that if one is saved through human agency, trust should not be placed in the human, but one should know that it came from the Eternal to enlighten his heart to do good, just as the Eternal enlightened the spirit of Cyrus that he should send the children of Israel back to their land. And so it will be in the future that the Eternal will enlighten the hearts of kings to return the land to Israel.
The Tosaphot Yom Tov in the tractate of Ma'asrot, tells us in the name of the Yerushalmi that before the coming of the redeemer there will be a Jewish government in the land of Israel under the supervision of another government. (Tosaphot Yom Tov, Ma'asser Sheini 5:2)
The holy Ohr ha-Hayim in poroshat Balaq (Numbers 24:16) writes in the name of our Sages who said (Sanhedrin 98a) that if the redemption will occur on account of the merits of Israel, in the category of "Ahishenah" (I will hasten it), the redemption will be sublimely miraculous and the redeemer will be revealed to Israel by a sign, as it says in the Zohar, that a star will go out into the midst of the heavens and it will be an amazing wonder. In contrast, if the redemption will be in the category of "b'itah" (its time), because the end has arrived even though Israel does not merit redemption, the redemption will come about in a different manner in the normal course of events by natural means.
Would that this essay will succeed to open eyes and to cause the wayward to return to the correct path, and may the teacher for justice be speedily revealed and "may the earth be full of knowledge of the L-rd as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). So may it be His will.
1 Deuteronomy 4:5: "Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances, as the L-rd my G-d has commanded me, that you should do them in the land which you are entering to take possession of it"; Deuteronomy 4:14 "and the L-rd commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances, that you might do them in the land that you are going over to possess"; Deuteronomy 5:31 "But you, stand here by Me, and I will tell you all the commandment and statutes and ordinances that you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess."
2 But it is impossible for me to believe that our redemption should be one of the fundamental tenets of the faith and that should the foundation fall the entire wall, Heaven forbid, would fall, and that we should say if, Heaven forbid, our sins would cause that He would drive us out forever, as R. Akiva holds in connection with the Ten Tribes that they were exiled forever. Would we for this reason be allowed to throw off the yoke of the kingdom of heaven from upon us or to change the fringe of a 'yod' even of a Rabbinic enactment. Heaven forbid that we would not serve the Eternal to eat the fruit of the land and enjoy its goodness to do Your will, the G-d of my desires. And at any rate and in every respect we are the servants of the Eternal. He may do with us as He wills and desires. And this is not a fundamental tenet and not a foundation upon which to build a structure. However, since it is a fundamental tenet to believe in the Torah and the Prophets and it is speaks there of our final redemption, in poroshat Nitzavim and poroshat ha'azinu, as the Ramban explains there, and much of this is the words of the prophets, one who quarrels with this redemption denies the belief in the Torah and the prophets.
3 See Genesis Rabba 19: R. Abba bar Kahana said: "It is not written 'and I ate' (v'akhalti) here. Rather, 'and I caused eat' (va'-okheil). According to Rashi and other commentators the meaning is "I fed the birds and the cattle."
4 The question of recognizing the Jewish religion as an official faith and its leaders as having the right of representatives in the upper house.
5 The capital of Transylvania which was part of Hungary in the Austro-Hungarian empire. The author was chief rabbi of Klausenburg from 1878 until his departure for Palestine in 1922.
6 See also Genesis Rabbah 38. "Great is peace, for even if Israel worships idols, but they are at peace with each other, the Holy One Blessed Be He says: 'I do not rule over them.' As it is written: 'Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.'"
7 Agudat Yisrael was founded at a meeting in Katowitz on 12 Sivan 5572 (1912).
8 The source for this passage is unknown.